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The Orthodox Nationalist: Matt Johnson on Rick Adams Uncensored #4

December 31, 2009

Replay of Rick Adam’s Dec. 4 show with Matt Johnson, re-broadcast with kind permission from RBN. Matt Johnson discusses:

  • The Eastern Orthodox church and nationalism
  • China, Russia, and other countries maintaining their independence from the New World Order
  • Call-in questions, and more!

13 MB / 32 kbps mono / 0 hour 57 min.

Contact Matt:
fr_raphael yahoo.com

Jamie Kelso, Dec. 31, 2009

December 31, 2009

On New Year’s Eve, Jamie discusses the use of false flag events by powers in government or organizations to stampede White peoples into the erosion of their sovereignty and freedom. Jamie cues off the bizarre underwear bomber case, which so strains credulity, that it is helping to alert our people to the use of false flag operations against us.

26 MB / 32 kbps mono / 1 hour 56 min.

Contact Jamie:
24.7keyboard gmail.com

Barack Obama, Interventionist and Ultimate Jihadi Hero -Michael Scheuer

December 31, 2009

In his less-than-fifteen-minute, 28 December statement on the Detroit airliner attack and Iran, President Obama exhilarated America’s Islamist foes and neatly encapsulated the U.S. governing elite’s absolute inability to see that its full-bore interventionism is leading America to ruin.

In his response to the al-Qaeda attack in Detroit, Obama echoed the identical analytic path blazed by his fellow interventionists George W. Bush and Bill Clinton:  

  • –The would-be bomber was a lone, extremist Muslim who was acting outside the tenets of his Islamic faith — the religion of peace — and was intent on slaughtering the innocent.  
  • –We — with our allies — will track down the bomber’s colleagues wherever they are and bring them to justice. 
  • –We will do the tracking-down gently so as not to undermine our most deeply held values. (And instead of being an adult and quietly firing those who failed to stop the Detroit attacker, I will blame my subordinates, publicly humiliate U.S. intelligence services, terrorize Americans by alleging “catastrophic” and “systemic” failure, and publicly detail the holes in our security system.) 

Obama’s prescription for defeating al-Qaeda and like-minded groups maintains continuity with the failed and stubbornly ignorant approach Washington has adhered to since bin Laden declared war on the United States in August, 1996. (Yes, August 1996 — we have been unsuccessfully fighting this enemy for 13.5 years.)  If the history of America’s al-Qaeda-fight proves anything, it is that 

  • –Al-Qaeda-ism is not outside the parameters of the Islamic faith.  While not mainstream, the religious justification for fighting U.S. interventionism in the Islamic world is growing in acceptance among the 80 percent of the world’s Muslims who deem U.S. foreign  policy an attack on their faith. In addition, bin Laden’s jihad has an extraordinarily strong positive resonance among always historically minded Muslims. Al-Qaeda’s victories remind them of battles fought by the Prophet and Saladin which produced miraculous victories over far more powerful enemies — like a barely trained kid from Nigeria beating the greatest power the world has ever seen. 
  • –An obviously failing fight that is now approaching 14-year duration ought to be irrefutable evidence that Clinton’s law-and-order-based strategy — even with Bush’s spasms of vigorously applied military power — has not a prayer of succeeding.  
  • –Whether we do our tracking/arresting/killing ethically or brutally is irrelevant.  Each al-Qaeda attack on the United States — successful or not — strengthens the hands of those politicians and bureaucrats who will curtail the civil liberties of Americans. The next successful al-Qaeda attack in the United States — because the U.S. military has no telling enemy targets left overseas — will yield civil-rights curtailments that will make President Bush look like Clarence Darrow. 

Besides flogging this dog-eared and bankrupt response to al-Qaeda, Obama likewise followed his predecessors’ refusal to explain our Islamist enemies’ motivation to Americans. This failure is completely attributable to the fact that Obama has aligned himself fully the Bush-Clinton-Bush legacy of interventionism in the Muslim world. 

  • –By bowing to the Saudi king, accepting the jailer Mubarak’s hospitality, putting U.S. arms at the disposal of the dictator of Yemen (where, by the way, Senator Lieberman is panting for another U.S.-waged war to defend Israel), Obama has reinforced Muslim perceptions that America wants them governed by tyrannical police states that will keep oil flowing to the west. 
  • –By making an IDF veteran his chief of staff, acquiescing to Israeli settlement expansion, and authorizing billions more in arms for Israel, Obama is convincing Muslims he intends to keep warbling that old American standard:  “Israel, Israel Uber Alles.”
  • –By augmenting the U.S. military force in Afghanistan — in numbers sufficient to tread water and bleed but not to win — and sending the first new forces to southern Afghanistan where al-Qaeda forces are minimal, Obama has reinforced both the general Muslim belief that U.S. policy is meant to destroy Islam, not al-Qaeda, and bin Laden’s certainty that the U.S. military is a paper tiger. 

Then there is Iran.  Listening to Obama as he spoke gave the impression that he was eager to get the Detroit-attack stuff out of the way so he could rhetorically intervene in Iran’s internal affairs.  Joining with our allies — read other Western interventionists and pawns of Israel — Obama said he wanted to condemn the Tehran regime’s at-times-lethal crackdown on opposition demonstrators. He said that Ahmadinejad and the ruling clerics were trampling on the “universal rights” of Iranians, and that such actions must stop. There are, of course, no universal political rights; this idea is the pipedream of Western secular intellectuals and interventionists, and is part and parcel of the interventionist nonsense Obama included in his Nobel speech about the “perfectibility” of the human condition through the efforts of “enlightened” men and women. 

Obama’s mind is emerging as a mind filled with war-causing secular theology of the French Revolution. That revolution was all about enlightened leaders “perfecting” the common man for what the revolutionary elite deemed to be his own good, and using the vehicles of government edict, fanatic secularism, and force to do so. (Sounds a bit like the universal health-care plan, doesn’t it?) The French Revolution went on to father Hitler, Stalin, the Khmer Rouge, and other mass-murdering regimes.  In the American context, the revolution’s impact has been the slow but increasingly complete replacement of the Founders’ sturdy non-interventionism — which recognized the pivotal and necessary role religion plays in all polities — by our current bipartisan elite’s obsession with interfering in other peoples’ internal affairs, especially if those internal affairs are interwoven with religion. For Obama and most members of our governing elite, today’s Iran fairly screams for Western intervention to break the mullahs’ backs and install secularism; to destroy an Israeli foe and ensure AIPAC funds to continue to flow into their pockets; and to make them feel good about themselves, no matter the cost to Americans and their children. 

In a statement of less than a quarter-hour, then, Obama demonstrated how thoroughly he slicked Americans in the last presidential election. The “hope” he offered turns out to be not less but more war-causing interventionism framed by a secularist “moral compass” alien to most non-elite Americans; the “Yes we can” slogan has proven to refer to making Obama’s Washington the agent of forced Westernization from the Congo to Afghanistan, and from Burma to Iran; and the president’s much-touted “audacity” seems nothing more than Obama’s brass in continuing to reassuringly chant the Bush-Clinton-Bush lie to Americans that Islamists attack us because of our way of life not because of our interventionism.  

And thus is how a great republic is being ruined by the littlest of arrogant and willful men.

Source: antiwar.com.

French Court throws out Sarkozy’s carbon tax

December 31, 2009

PARIS: France’s new carbon emission tax, due to have gone into effect tomorrow, has been ruled illegal by the country’s constitutional court because it exempted too many polluters.

Sarkozy

The Conseil Constitutionnel struck down the tax on Tuesday because the exemptions breached ”the principle of [tax] equality”.

It estimated that 93 per cent of industrial emissions outside of fuel use, including those of more than 1000 of the country’s most polluting industrial sites, would be exempt from the tax of €17 ($27) a tonne of emitted carbon dioxide.

The ruling is a blow for the President, Nicolas Sarkozy, as the measure was one of his flagship initiatives to cut emissions. It also leaves the Government with a €4.1 billion hole in its 2010 budget.

Meanwhile, the President of Brazil, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has signed a law requiring that Brazil cut its projected greenhouse gas emissions by 39 per cent by 2020, meeting a commitment made at the Copenhagen climate change summit.

At the meeting Brazil announced a ”voluntary commitment” to reduce CO2 emissions by between 36.1 and 38.9 per cent in 10 years. The cut is not an absolute figure but a decrease on its projected ”business as usual” emissions.

The new law is subject to several decrees on responsibilities and regulations for the farming, industrial, energy and environmental sectors.

Despite the ambitious targets, Greenpeace’s top representative in Brazil, Sergio Leitao, said it was merely a list of good intentions and accused the President of double standards.

The President did veto three provisions in the law, including a reference to promoting the development of clean energy and the gradual phasing out of energy from fossil fuels.

Agence France-Presse

Source: Sydney Morning Herald.

Jamie Kelso, Dec. 30, 2009

December 31, 2009

Jamie discusses the upcoming American Renaissance Conference. The discussion branches out to the patriot prospects in European politics, as exemplified by Nick Griffin, Chairman of the British National Party, recently elected Member of the European Parliament, and a featured speaker at the Feb 19-21, 2009 American Renaissance Conference hosted by Jared Taylor. We bring in a surprisingly (and disappointingly) nasty article on the BNP in the February 2010 issue of Pat Buchanan’s American Conservative Magazine. Pat didn’t write it, but it’s such an attack-piece article, that it’s still a disappointment.

26 MB / 32 kbps mono / 1 hour 56 min.

Contact Jamie:
24.7keyboard gmail.com

Jamie Kelso, Dec. 29, 2009: Don Wassall

December 29, 2009

Jamie Kelso and Don Wassall talk about his long history in the patriot cause. Don was the Executive Director of the Populist Party in the elections of 1988, 1990, and 1992. Jamie and Don talk about the 24 years of continuous publication of Mr. Wassall’s monthly newspaper, The Nationalist Times, among many topics that come up in this two-hour interview with one of the most productive and effective patriots in America.

26 MB / 32 kbps mono / 1 hour 56 min.

Contact Jamie:
24.7keyboard gmail.com

Israeli police arrest nuke whistleblower Vanunu

December 29, 2009

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli police said on Tuesday they had arrested nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu for violating a ban on contact with foreigners.

His lawyer said he was detained over a romance with a Norwegian woman rather than for revealing nuclear secrets.

“Vanunu was arrested (for) a relationship between a man and a woman, with a Norwegian citizen,” attorney Avigdor Feldman told reporters.

“He is not being accused of giving any secrets. She is not interested in nuclear business — she’s interested in Mordechai Vanunu (and he) is probably interested in her,” Feldman said.

A Jerusalem court ordered Vanunu, who was taken into police custody on Monday, put under house arrest for three days pending an indictment, police said.

Vanunu was jailed as a traitor in 1986 and served an 18-year sentence after discussing his work as a technician at Israel’s Dimona nuclear reactor with a British newspaper, an interview that led experts to conclude the facility had produced fissile material for as many as 200 atomic warheads.

After his release from jail in 2004, Israeli defense authorities barred Vanunu from traveling abroad or speaking with foreigners, alleging he has more details on the Dimona atomic reactor to divulge.

The restrictions, upheld by Israel’s Supreme Court, have been condemned by international human rights groups.

Vanunu denies he poses a security risk but says he will pursue anti-nuclear activities and wants to live abroad.

In court on Tuesday, Vanunu — who refuses in protest against Israel to speak Hebrew publicly — addressed reporters in English.

“This Jewish state has 200 atomic … hydrogen bombs, atomic weapons, neutron bomb,” he said. “They are not able to say they have the bomb, they are not able to destroy anyone … instead they arrest Vanunu Mordechai.”

Israel neither confirms nor denies having the Middle East’s only atomic weapons under a policy of “strategic ambiguity” billed as warding off enemies while avoiding arms races.

Vanunu, a Jewish convert to Christianity, argues that by refusing international inspections at Dimona, Israel inflames regional tensions and risks a “second Holocaust.”

He has also said the Jewish state has no right to exist, and there has been little public sympathy for him in Israel.

In 2007, Vanunu was sentenced to six months in jail for violating the ban on contact with foreigners.

Source: Reuters.

From Russia Today:

Execution row escalates as China dismisses UK criticism

December 29, 2009

A defiant China shrugged off condemnation from Gordon Brown and other senior politicians todayand insisted it was fair and humane to execute a British man despite concerns about his psychiatric condition.

As China’s ambassador to London was summoned to the Foreign Office for a dressing down, officials in Beijing said the UK had no right to meddle in the case of the convicted drug smuggler Akmal Shaikh and warned that “unreasonable criticism” could harm relations between the two countries.

The dispute intensified early today when it was confirmed that China had ignored pleas for clemency from the British government and executed the 53-year-old from north London. Campaigners insisted Shaikh had a severe personality disorder and had been duped by gangsters into carrying 4kg of heroin in a suitcase.

The prime minister, who had called China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, to urge him to halt the execution, said he was “appalled and disappointed” at the execution.

In a “difficult” meeting at the Foreign Office, the UK minister Ivan Lewis told the Chinese ambassador Fu Ying that her government had failed in its basic human rights responsibilities by ignoring representations about Shaikh’s mental health. “It’s a deeply depressing day for anyone with a modicum of compassion or commitment to justice,” Lewis said.

The response from the Chinese government was swift and dismissive. An annual meeting between the two countries, scheduled for January in Beijing to discuss human rights, was cancelled.

Jiang Yu, a spokeswoman for the Chinese foreign ministry, told a press briefing in Beijing: “No one has the right to comment on China’s judicial sovereignty. It is the common wish of people around the world to strike against the crime of drug trafficking. We express our strong dissatisfaction and opposition to the British government’s unreasonable criticism of the case. We urge the British to correct their mistake in order to avoid harming China-UK relations.”

Lewis said the execution made him feel “sick to the stomach”. Twenty-seven separate representations had been made at ministerial level on Shaikh’s behalf to the Chinese authorities, he said.

But he admitted there was little Britain could do other than be vocal in its criticism of China. “I’m not going to make idle threats, this morning is not the time for a kneejerk reaction. It’s true we must and will continue to engage with China,” he said.

This acceptance to fight with words and not actions is a marked contrast to other diplomatic disputes in recent years, such as Britain’s decision to expel four Russian diplomats in 2007 after Russia’s refusal to extradite the former KGB agent Andrei Lugovoi to stand trial for the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.

Lewis said: “China cannot expect to receive the respect they yearn [for] from the international community until they abide by minimum standards of human rights. Engagement with China is non-negotiable and any alternative strategy is simply not credible. But by being so clear in our public criticism of China’s handling of this case we are demonstrating that it is not business as usual.”

The Chinese embassy in London said Shaikh, who used to run a minicab firm in Kentish Town, north London, had no previous medical record of mental illness and that his rights and interests had been properly respected.

But campaigners said his mental health was never assessed while he was in prison and that the Chinese authorities repeatedly refused access to a forensic psychologist who offered to conduct a free assessment.

The legal charity Reprieve, which took on Shaikh’s case, said todaythat China ignored evidence from six witnesses who came forward on Monday with tales of his vulnerability. These included a nun and a priest who worked at a centre for asylum seekers in Warsaw, where Shaikh moved five years ago as his mental state declined.

In a statement today, the Chinese embassy said: “During the legal process, Mr Shaikh’s rights and interests were properly respected and guaranteed and the concerns of the British side were duly noted and taken into consideration by the Chinese judicial authorities.

“Out of humanitarian consideration, visas were granted to the two cousins of Mr Shaikh on Boxing Day, and they were given access to Mr Shaikh in China.”

The statement said Shaikh, who was arrested in September 2007 in Urumqi, north-west China, was convicted of “serious” drug trafficking. “The amount of heroin he brought into China was 4,030g, enough to cause 26,800 deaths, threatening numerous families,” it said.

But Clive Stafford-Smith, director of Reprieve, said if this calculation was correct, about 60% of the world’s population (4.2bn people) would be killed annually from heroin.

Shaikh learned of his imminent execution only on Monday. He was informed by two cousins who had flown to China seeking a reprieve. “We are deeply saddened, stunned and disappointed at the news of the execution of our beloved cousin,” said Soohail and Nasir Shaikh in a statement.

The two men said they were “astonished” that the Chinese authorities had refused to investigate their cousin’s mental health on the grounds that the defendant ought to have provided evidence of his own fragile state of mind.

By Helen Pidd, Jonathan Watts in Beijing

Source: Guardian.

Iran will not bow to sanctions

December 29, 2009

They are the international community’s most feasibly robust tool, but a lack of political will and Iranian pride will stop them working.

Two impulses drive Iran’s nuclear programme. Both are rooted in history. Speak to an Iranian and he’ll tell you about Iran’s 7,000-year history, its imperial glory and its contribution to civilisation. But he will also tell you about the 1953 CIA coup overthrowing Mossadegh, the behaviour of the Anglo-Persian oil company (now BP); and about repeated western meddling in his country.

Pride and grievance – the left and right lobes of the Iranian brain – are constantly warring, but it is recent history – the suffering not the glory – that has left its mark. Never again will foreigners dictate to Iran; never again will it be weak. In Iranian eyes it has been badly treated by a parvenu west for too long, and for many in the Islamic republic, its nuclear programme is the banner of its resurgence.

France has said that the UN no longer has any reason to hold off further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear programme. The US secretary of defence, Robert Gates, also warned that Iran faced “significant new sanctions” if it refused to change course on uranium enrichment. But this only highlights the lack of options facing the international community, and its lack of understanding about Iranian motivations.

Until the first round of UN sanctions in December 2006, Iran had pursued a dual diplomatic track to escape international censure. The first track sought the support of the non-aligned movement, whose members from the developing world largely share its views regarding the unfairness of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and the west’s reluctance to share nuclear technology – known as “technological apartheid”. The second track relied on the veto power of China and Russia in the UN security council. China is the second largest exporter to Iran. Russia is also a vital trading partner and enjoys close co-operation with Iran on its nuclear programme, centring on the Bushehr reactor project – a relationship deepened by a mutual interest in limiting US influence in central Asia. The strategy worked pretty well for close to five years. But the Iranian decision to restart nuclear activities in January 2006, after almost two years of suspension following the 2003 Tehran agreement, finally saw the nuclear file sent to New York. Three rounds of security council sanctions followed.

These were tepid at best. The China and Russia connection worked – and the two countries worked hard to mitigate the international response. The transfer of certain materials that could be used in nuclear processes was prohibited and a few Iranian banks were targeted, as were certain individuals said to have links with the Revolutionary Guards. Tangibly, the sanctions have had an effect. The Iranian economy is vulnerable. It is particularly reliant on foreign investment to develop its untapped oil fields. Systemic economic pressures and poor infrastructure have created high inflation and high unemployment. Sanctions intensify these problems. But they have not been sufficiently robust to force Iran into suspending enrichment.

For this they would have to attack Iran’s primary source of revenue, and the economic basis of the state: oil. But according to Clement Therme from the Geneva Graduate institute of International and Development Studies this is not going to happen:

Because the EU is Iran’s primary trading partner, targeting Iran’s oil and gas sector, while it would hurt Iran, would also significantly hurt the economies of the EU. It would be counterproductive for them to do it.

A French official recently told me that while concern is mounting at the Quai d’Orsay, and sanctions on refined oil products and even on investment in Iranian oil and gas sectors are all being considered, the feeling is that oil contracts already signed should be preserved, and all efforts maintained to keep Iranian core oil industries going. In a post-Iraq world, sanctions are the international community’s most feasibly robust tool. But it has consistently lacked the political will to pursue them adequately. Despite the rhetoric, self-interest, it seems, still rules.

But there is a further problem: sanctions occupy a peculiar mental space in the Iranian psyche. Despite the increase in international political pressure following the June 2009 presidential elections, Iran is standing firmer than ever. The diplomatic line now coming from Tehran is that it will not alter its progress – at any price. More than this, many in the regime believe that by continuing enrichment the Islamic republic shows it can withstand adversity. Its achievements are therefore all the more important, and worth defending.

Professor Ali Ansari of St Andrews University outlines the problem:

The west is in a difficult position. The sanctions do have an effect on Iran. But as soon as this is said publicly – which is necessary to keep the hardliners who want to bomb Iran at bay – it just makes the Iranians determined to show them that sanctions are not working.

Iranian pride, now invested so heavily in its display of technological achievement – will not bow to “imperialist pressure”. Once again the world is trying to “cheat” Iran – this time out of its legitimate right to nuclear technology. It will not succeed.

Without sufficient strength, a further round of sanctions will be fruitless. Military attack and its attendant political and possibly military cost is a frightening prospect. The latest “tough” pronouncements from the international community sound very much like the earliest. Imagination and understanding have been lacking throughout the nuclear impasse, but they are needed now more than ever.

By David Patrikarakos

Source: Guardian.

Jamie Kelso, Dec. 28, 2009: Stan Hess

December 28, 2009

Jamie Kelso & Stan Hess discuss some encouraging recent developments, including two movies: Ice Age Columbus, Who Were The First Americans? and Defamation. Stan and Jamie also talk about the astonishing appearance of the best investigative story ever written about the U.S.S. Liberty on the FRONT page of the Chicago Tribune in October 2007. Why are we not surprised that the veteran and very highly regarded journalist, John Crewdson, was fired by the Tribune one year later, under the new ownership of Sam Zell. Stan has met one of the U.S.S. Liberty survivors, Phil Tourney.

26 MB / 32 kbps mono / 1 hour 56 min.

Contact Jamie:
24.7keyboard gmail.com

Jimmy Carter Grovels -Kevin MacDonald

December 28, 2009

One of the virtues of being an ex-president is that there is no need to cater to the political constituencies that are essential for election. American presidential candidates, and especially Democrats, are beholden to Jewish financial support, and Jews are an important swing voting bloc in several states, especially New York. I recall that the first time I thought about Jewish influence, at least in a negative way, was during the 1976 election campaign when Jimmy Carter made the obligatory campaign stop in New York and pledged fealty to Israel.

But since his presidency, Carter has definitely gotten on the bad side of serious Zionists — prototypically the folks at David Horowitz’s Frontpagemag.com. Here’s the video version of Jimmy Carter’s War Against the Jews. (Pop Quiz: An article on Frontpagemag complains that a certain religious group defiles Christmas and this year engaged in a “hatefest” on Christmas Day. Which group is it? For answer, see here.)

But now Carter has apologized. “We must recognize Israel’s achievements under difficult circumstances, even as we strive in a positive way to help Israel continue to improve its relations with its Arab populations, but we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel.” In particular, he now says that the use of the word ‘apartheid’ in the title of his 2008 book was a prediction of the future if the Palestinians are not allowed to control the West Bank, not a comment on present realities. Moreover, “Carter said he never meant to convey the impression that the pro-Israel lobby silenced criticism of Israel, only that the American Israel Public Affairs Committee was the “most influential lobbying group” and that presidents including himself and congresses have historically been “totally committed” to Israel’s security.

Since Carter the West Bank is an apartheid society (complete with walls of separation, separate roads for Jews and Arabs, etc.) and since the Israel Lobby does indeed have a long history of doing everything it can to silence its critics (see Cong. Paul Finley’s aptly named They Dare to Speak Out [1st edition, 1985]) and since Carter is well aware of all of this, his apology is has to count as groveling. To be sure, Carter claims that his views are mainstream (e.g., he says his positions are the same as J Street’s). But this is surely a significant move on Carter’s part, especially since he now asserts things that are manifestly untrue. So what possessed him to make such a statement?

Although he denies it, there is a strong suspicion that the statement was intended to help Jason Carter, his grandson, in his campaign for the state senate in Georgia in a district with a “substantial” Jewish community. Indeed, JTA reports that “The younger Carter has been trying for days to reach Liane Levetan, a former state senator and CEO of DeKalb County, and as soon as they connected Tuesday, he directed her to the JTA Web site to read the letter.” Jason obviously has a bright future in politics.

Pretty much no matter what Jimmy Carter says, at this point he is persona non grata with Jews. Jimmy Carter’s former honesty will not be forgiven and it will not be forgotten. Groveling never helps, but it may well help Jason: The article notes that Jesse Jackson’s son managed to have a political life despite the transgressions of his father, but only after a lot of fence mending with Jews.

Source: TOO Blog.

Napolitano admits air security failed

December 28, 2009

After days of suggesting that the aviation security system worked because a Christmas Day attempted bombing of a US airliner was foiled, the Obama administration’s point person conceded today that the system, in fact, failed.

Fellow passengers and crew members subdued a 23-year-old Nigerian man — who was on a terrorist watch list and who managed to get on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit with an explosive hidden on his body — as he tried to ignite the device.

Making the rounds of the Sunday news shows, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declared, “One thing I’d like to point out is that the system worked.”

That drew the fire of Republicans and other critics, who said a tragedy had only been narrowly averted.

On morning news shows today, Napolitano sought to clarify her remarks, saying she was referring to the system of quickly notifying other flights and law enforcement on the ground.

“Our system did not work in this instance,” she said on NBC’s “Today” show. “No one is happy or satisfied with that. An extensive review is under way.”

The Obama administration has ordered investigations into how travelers are placed on watch lists, and also how passengers are screened.

The president, vacationing in Hawaii, is expected to make his first public remarks on the incident later today.

Asked why the suspect wasn’t on a no-fly list even though his father had warned the US embassy in Nigeria that his son had become radicalized and had disappeared, Napolitano replied on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “One of the things that we are doing is go backward. What were the facts that led up to this event? How did this individual get on the plane? Why wasn’t he flagged at a higher screening level? How did he get an explosive substance onto the plane? All of those are serious questions that we are now looking at.”

Asked how the man was able to get through security screening at two airports, she said, “Well, it’s certainly not something that we want to have happen or happen again, which is why we’re looking at that technology. It’s why we’re employing new technology, or beginning to deploy new technology at airports in the United States.”

Source: Boston Globe.

High school mulls axing science labs & teachers to help non-Whites

December 28, 2009

The proposal would trade labs seen as benefiting white students for resources to help struggling students.

Berkeley High School is considering a controversial proposal to eliminate science labs and the five science teachers who teach them to free up more resources to help struggling students.

The proposal to put the science-lab cuts on the table was approved recently by Berkeley High’s School Governance Council, a body of teachers, parents, and students who oversee a plan to change the structure of the high school to address Berkeley’s dismal racial achievement gap, where white students are doing far better than the state average while black and Latino students are doing worse.

Paul Gibson, an alternate parent representative on the School Governance Council, said that information presented at council meetings suggests that the science labs were largely classes for white students. He said the decision to consider cutting the labs in order to redirect resources to underperforming students was virtually unanimous.

Science teachers were understandably horrified by the proposal. “The majority of the science department believes that this major policy decision affecting the entire student body, the faculty, and the community has been made without any notification, without a hearing,” said Mardi Sicular-Mertens, the senior member of Berkeley High School’s science department, at last week’s school board meeting.

Sincular-Mertens, who has taught science at BHS for 24 years, said the possible cuts will impact her black students as well. She says there are twelve African-American males in her AP classes and that her four environmental science classes are 17.5 percent African American and 13.9 percent Latino. “As teachers, we are greatly saddened at the thought of losing the opportunity to help all of our students master the skills they need to find satisfaction and success in their education,” she told the board.

The full plan to close the racial achievement gap by altering the structure of the high school is known as the High School Redesign. It will come before the Berkeley School Board as an information item at its January 13 meeting. Generally, such agenda items are passed without debate, but if the school board chooses to play a more direct role in the High School Redesign, it could bring the item back as an action item at a future meeting.

School district spokesman Mark Coplan directed inquiries about the redesign to Richard Ng, the principal’s assistant at Berkeley High and member of the School Governance Council. Ng did not return repeated calls for comment.

Source: East Bay Express.

Mishko and Dietrich, 12/25/2009

December 26, 2009

This Week in Disorganized America: Dietrich takes the night off.  Mishko has James Hawthorne, Frank and Heather on for a Christmas special that’s full of just straight conversation.  

  • Just straight talk
  • And much more…

The Orthodox Nationalist: The Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church

December 26, 2009

Ukrainian Great Coat of Arms

Matt Johnson discusses:

  • The mission and vision of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
  • The centrality of sobornost
  • The idea of nationalism and ethnicity in Orthodoxy

12 MB / 32 kbps mono / 0 hour 53 min.

Contact Matt:
fr_raphael yahoo.com

Jamie Kelso, Dec. 23, 2009: Stan Hess, Don Wassall

December 23, 2009

Jamie Kelso interviews Stan Hess of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in our first hour. Stan and Jamie talk about the Global Warming Hoax, which appears to be foundering on the reality of natural and cyclical global cooling. In the second hour Don Wassall of Las Vegas, Nevada comes on the air. Mr. Wassall is the publisher of the Nationalist Times, a newspaper read every month by patriots since 1985. Don Wassall talks about the “caste” system that is exposed and countered on the only website in the world devoted to sports from a White point of view. Don is the founder of CasteFootball.us, that website.

26 MB / 32 kbps mono / 1 hour 55 min.

Contact Jamie:
24.7keyboard gmail.com

Announcing Science Sunday

December 23, 2009

The Voice of Reason Broadcast Network is pleased to announce “Science Sunday” — a series of weekly broadcasts on science and skepticism. Science Sunday will consist of four individual programs not directly hosted by VoR, but rather rebroadcast by VoR with the kind permission of the program creators. The programs will air every Sunday starting December 27, 2009, and will run from 9:00pm to 12:30am, Eastern U.S. time. Science Sunday broadcasts will not be archived by VoR; the podcasts are available at the respective web sites of the individual programs (linked below).

Science Sunday is a first step toward providing a much more extensive and varied schedule around the clock to inform and entertain VoR listeners. Please stay tuned for more changes in the schedule in early 2010.

The four Science Sunday programs scheduled to air on VoR are:

9:00 PM: The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe is a weekly podcast talk show discussing the latest news and topics from the world of the paranormal, fringe science, and controversial claims from a scientific point of view.

Produced by The New England Skeptical Society (NESS) in association with the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF).

[SGU archive]

10:30 PM: Skeptoid with Brian Dunning

Skeptoid is a weekly science podcast dedicated to furthering knowledge by blasting away the widespread pseudosciences that infect popular culture.

Each weekly episode focuses on a single phenomenon — an urban legend, a paranormal claim, alternative therapy, or something just plain stupid — that you may have heard of and that you might believe in. Skeptoid attempts to expose the folly of belief in non-evidence based phenomena, and more importantly, explains the factual scientific reality.

[Skeptoid arhcive]

11:00 PM: Are We Alone?: Science radio for thinking species

Could there be life-forms on worlds far beyond the bounds of Earth? The search for life as we don’t know it begins with understanding life as we do.

Are We Alone? is a one-hour program, produced by the SETI Institute. From amoebas to androids to antimatter, Are We Alone? weaves together humor and compelling interviews into themed programs about the biggest ideas in evolutionary biology, genetics, paleontology, technology, and physics – as well as cosmology and astronomy.

[Are We Alone? archive]

12:00 AM: Astronomy Cast

Astronomy Cast takes a fact based journey through the cosmos as it offers listeners weekly discussions on astronomical topics ranging from planets to cosmology. Hosted by Fraser Cain (Universe Today) and Dr. Pamela L. Gay (SIUE), this show brings the questions of an avid astronomy lover direct to an astronomer. Together Fraser and Pamela explore what is known and being discovered about the universe around us.

[Astronomy Cast archive]

Christmas 1914 in No Man’s Land

December 23, 2009

German postcard from Christmas 1914 (copyright Simon Rees, click to enlarge)You are standing up to your knees in the slime of a waterlogged trench.  It is the evening of 24 December 1914 and you are on the dreaded Western Front.

Stooped over, you wade across to the firing step and take over the watch.  Having exchanged pleasantries, your bleary-eyed and mud-spattered colleague shuffles off towards his dug out.  Despite the horrors and the hardships, your morale is high and you believe that in the New Year the nation’s army march towards a glorious victory.

But for now you stamp your feet in a vain attempt to keep warm.  All is quiet when jovial voices call out from both friendly and enemy trenches.  Then the men from both sides start singing carols and songs.  Next come requests not to fire, and soon the unthinkable happens: you start to see the shadowy shapes of soldiers gathering together in no-man’s land laughing, joking and sharing gifts.

Many have exchanged cigarettes, the lit ends of which burn brightly in the inky darkness.  Plucking up your courage, you haul yourself up and out of the trench and walk towards the foe…

The meeting of enemies as friends in no-man’s land was experienced by hundreds, if not thousands, of men on the Western Front during Christmas 1914.  Today, 90 years after it occurred, the event is seen as a shining episode of sanity from among the bloody chapters of World War One – a spontaneous effort by the lower ranks to create a peace that could have blossomed were it not for the interference of generals and politicians.

 The reality of the Christmas Truce, however, is a slightly less romantic and a more down to earth story.  It was an organic affair that in some spots hardly registered a mention and in others left a profound impact upon those who took part.

Many accounts were rushed, confused or contradictory.  Others, written long after the event, are weighed down by hindsight.  These difficulties aside, the true story is still striking precisely because of its rag-tagged nature: it is more ‘human’ and therefore all the more potent.

Months beforehand, millions of servicemen, reservists and volunteers from all over the continent had rushed enthusiastically to the banners of war: the atmosphere was one of holiday rather than conflict.

But it was not long before the jovial façade was torn away. Armies equipped with repeating rifles, machine guns and a vast array of artillery tore chunks out of each other, and thousands upon thousands of men perished.

To protect against the threat of this vast firepower, the soldiers were ordered to dig in and prepare for next year’s offensives, which most men believed would break the deadlock and deliver victory.

The early trenches were often hasty creations and poorly constructed; if the trench was badly sighted it could become a sniping hot spot.  In bad weather (the winter of 1914 was a dire one) the positions could flood and fall in.  The soldiers – unequipped to face the rigours of the cold and rain – found themselves wallowing in a freezing mire of mud and the decaying bodies of the fallen.

German dugout (copyright Simon Rees, click to enlarge)The man at the Front could not help but have a degree of sympathy for his opponents who were having just as miserable a time as they were.

Another factor that broke down the animosity between the opposing armies were the surroundings.  In 1914 the men at the front could still see the vestiges of civilisation.  Villages, although badly smashed up, were still standing.  Fields, although pitted with shell-holes, had not been turned into muddy lunarscapes.

Thus the other world – the civilian world – and the social mores and manners that went with it was still present at the front.  Also lacking was the pain, misery and hatred that years of bloody war build up.  Then there was the desire, on all sides, to see the enemy up close – was he really as bad as the politicians, papers and priests were saying?

It was a combination of these factors, and many more minor ones, that made the Christmas Truce of 1914 possible.

On the eve of the Truce, the British Army (still a relatively small presence on the Western Front) was manning a stretch of the line running south from the infamous Ypres salient for 27 miles to the La Bassee Canal.

Along the front the enemy was sometimes no more than 70, 50 or even 30 yards away.  Both Tommy and Fritz could quite easily hurl greetings and insults to one another, and, importantly, come to tacit agreements not to fire.  Incidents of temporary truces and outright fraternisation were more common at this stage in the war than many people today realise – even units that had just taken part in a series of futile and costly assaults, were still willing to talk and come to arrangements with their opponents.

German and British officer together during the 1914 Christmas truceAs Christmas approached the festive mood and the desire for a lull in the fighting increased as parcels packed with goodies from home started to arrive.  On top of this came gifts care of the state.  Tommy received plum puddings and ‘Princess Mary boxes’; a metal case engraved with an outline of George V’s daughter and filled with chocolates and butterscotch, cigarettes and tobacco, a picture card of Princess Mary and a facsimile of George V’s greeting to the troops.  ‘May God protect you and bring you safe home,’ it said.

Not to be outdone, Fritz received a present from the Kaiser, the Kaiserliche, a large meerschaum pipe for the troops and a box of cigars for NCOs and officers.  Towns, villages and cities, and numerous support associations on both sides also flooded the front with gifts of food, warm clothes and letters of thanks.

The Belgians and French also received goods, although not in such an organised fashion as the British or Germans.  For these nations the Christmas of 1914 was tinged with sadness – their countries were occupied.  It is no wonder that the Truce, although it sprung up in some spots on French and Belgian lines, never really caught hold as it did in the British sector.

With their morale boosted by messages of thanks and their bellies fuller than normal, and with still so much Christmas booty to hand, the season of goodwill entered the trenches.  A British Daily Telegraph correspondent wrote that on one part of the line the Germans had managed to slip a chocolate cake into British trenches.

German and Russian soldiers together on the Eastern front, Christmas 1914Even more amazingly, it was accompanied with a message asking for a ceasefire later that evening so they could celebrate the festive season and their Captain’s birthday.  They proposed a concert at 7.30pm when candles, the British were told, would be placed on the parapets of their trenches.

The British accepted the invitation and offered some tobacco as a return present.  That evening, at the stated time, German heads suddenly popped up and started to sing.  Each number ended with a round of applause from both sides.

The Germans then asked the British to join in.  At this point, one very mean-spirited Tommy shouted: ‘We’d rather die than sing German.’  To which a German joked aloud: ‘It would kill us if you did’.

December 24 was a good day weather-wise: the rain had given way to clear skies.

On many stretches of the Front the crack of rifles and the dull thud of shells ploughing into the ground continued, but at a far lighter level than normal.  In other sectors there was an unnerving silence that was broken by the singing and shouting drifting over, in the main, from the German trenches.

Along many parts of the line the Truce was spurred on with the arrival in the German trenches of miniature Christmas trees – Tannenbaum.  The sight these small pines, decorated with candles and strung along the German parapets, captured the Tommies’ imagination, as well as the men of the Indian corps who were reminded of the sacred Hindu festival of light.

British soldiers bringing in Christmas hollyIt was the perfect excuse for the opponents to start shouting to one another, to start singing and, in some areas, to pluck up the courage to meet one another in no-man’s land.

By now, the British high command – comfortably ‘entrenched’ in a luxurious châteaux 27 miles behind the front – was beginning to hear of the fraternisation.

Stern orders were issued by the commander of the BEF, Sir John French against such behaviour.  Other ‘brass-hats’ (as the Tommies nick-named their high-ranking officers and generals), also made grave pronouncements on the dangers and consequences of parleying with the Germans.

However, there were many high-ranking officers who took a surprisingly relaxed view of the situation.  If anything, they believed it would at least offer their men an opportunity to strengthen their trenches.  This mixed stance meant that very few officers and men involved in the Christmas Truce were disciplined.

Interestingly, the German High Command’s ambivalent attitude towards the Truce mirrored that of the British.

Christmas day began quietly but once the sun was up the fraternisation began.  Again songs were sung and rations thrown to one another.  It was not long before troops and officers started to take matters into their own hands and ventured forth.  No-man’s land became something of a playground.

Men exchanged gifts and buttons.  In one or two places soldiers who had been barbers in civilian times gave free haircuts.  One German, a juggler and a showman, gave an impromptu, and given the circumstances, somewhat surreal performance of his routine in the centre of no-man’s land.

Two Territorials of London Rifle Brigade with Saxon troops of the 104th and 106th Regiments in No Man's Land near Ploegsteert Wood during the unofficial Christmas TruceCaptain Sir Edward Hulse of the Scots Guards, in his famous account, remembered the approach of four unarmed Germans at 08.30.  He went out to meet them with one of his ensigns.  ‘Their spokesmen,’ Hulse wrote, ‘started off by saying that he thought it only right to come over and wish us a happy Christmas, and trusted us implicitly to keep the truce.  He came from Suffolk where he had left his best girl and a 3 ½ h.p. motor-bike!’

Having raced off to file a report at headquarters, Hulse returned at 10.00 to find crowds of British soldiers and Germans out together chatting and larking about in no-man’s land, in direct contradiction to his orders.

Not that Hulse seemed to care about the fraternisation in itself – the need to be seen to follow orders was his concern.  Thus he sought out a German officer and arranged for both sides to return to their lines.

While this was going on he still managed to keep his ears and eyes open to the fantastic events that were unfolding.

‘Scots and Huns were fraternizing in the most genuine possible manner.  Every sort of souvenir was exchanged addresses given and received, photos of families shown, etc.  One of our fellows offered a German a cigarette; the German said, “Virginian?”  Our fellow said, “Aye, straight-cut”, the German said “No thanks, I only smoke Turkish!”… It gave us all a good laugh.’

Hulse’s account was in part a letter to his mother, who in turn sent it on to the newspapers for publication, as was the custom at the time.  Tragically, Hulse was killed in March 1915.

On many parts of the line the Christmas Day truce was initiated through sadder means.  Both sides saw the lull as a chance to get into no-man’s land and seek out the bodies of their compatriots and give them a decent burial.  Once this was done the opponents would inevitably begin talking to one another.

The 6th Gordon Highlanders, for example, organised a burial truce with the enemy.  After the gruesome task of laying friends and comrades to rest was complete, the fraternisation began.

German officer in a British trench during the Christmas truceWith the Truce in full swing up and down the line there were a number of recorded games of soccer, although these were really just ‘kick-abouts’ rather than a structured match.

On January 1, 1915, the London Times published a letter from a major in the Medical Corps reporting that in his sector the British played a game against the Germans opposite and were beaten 3-2.

Kurt Zehmisch of the 134th Saxons recorded in his diary: ‘The English brought a soccer ball from the trenches, and pretty soon a lively game ensued.  How marvellously wonderful, yet how strange it was.  The English officers felt the same way about it.  Thus Christmas, the celebration of Love, managed to bring mortal enemies together as friends for a time.’

The Truce lasted all day; in places it ended that night, but on other sections of the line it held over Boxing Day and in some areas, a few days more.  In fact, there parts on the front where the absence of aggressive behaviour was conspicuous well into 1915.

Captain J C Dunn, the Medical Officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, whose unit had fraternised and received two barrels of beer from the Saxon troops opposite, recorded how hostilities re-started on his section of the front.

Dunn wrote: ‘At 8.30 I fired three shots in the air and put up a flag with “Merry Christmas” on it, and I climbed on the parapet.  He [the Germans] put up a sheet with “Thank you” on it, and the German Captain appeared on the parapet.  We both bowed and saluted and got down into our respective trenches, and he fired two shots in the air, and the War was on again.’

German comrades, winter 1914-15 (copyright Simon Rees, click to enlarge)The war was indeed on again, for the Truce had no hope of being maintained.  Despite being wildly reported in Britain and to a lesser extent in Germany, the troops and the populations of both countries were still keen to prosecute the conflict.

Today, pragmatists read the Truce as nothing more than a ‘blip’ – a temporary lull induced by the season of goodwill, but willingly exploited by both sides to better their defences and eye out one another’s positions.  Romantics assert that the Truce was an effort by normal men to bring about an end to the slaughter.

In the public’s mind the facts have become irrevocably mythologized, and perhaps this is the most important legacy of the Christmas Truce today.  In our age of uncertainty, it comforting to believe, regardless of the real reasoning and motives, that soldiers and officers told to hate, loathe and kill, could still lower their guns and extend the hand of goodwill, peace, love and Christmas cheer.





Sources:

US bipartisan commission warns of ‘debt-driven crisis’ within two years

December 23, 2009

A bipartisan commission of fiscal analysts warned Monday that the U.S. public debt is piling up so rapidly that it threatens to plunge the nation into crisis if Congress and the White House do not reverse course within two years.

In the past year alone, the U.S. debt level soared from 41 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to 53 percent, said the report by the Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform, prepared in cooperation with the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

The group comprises former members of Congress, including co-chairmen Bill Frenzel, Tim Penny and Charlie Stenholm, as well as former heads of the Office of Management and Budget, the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office and other fiscal analysts.

The group said the debt is projected to rise steadily, reaching 85 percent of GDP by 2018, 100 percent by 2022 and 200 percent in 2038.

“However, before the debt reached such high levels, the United States would almost certainly experience a debt-driven crisis — something previously viewed as almost unfathomable in the world’s largest economy,” the commission concluded in its report, “Red Ink Rising: A Call to Action to Stem the Mounting Federal Debt.”

Worries about the debt also could create political problems for the governing Democrats before any economic crisis emerges.

A Gallup Poll conducted last month found that just 31 percent of Americans think President Obama is able to control federal spending, down from 52 percent one a year ago.

Those doubts were buttressed by reports Monday that Democratic leaders in Congress are moving to raise the $12.1 trillion debt ceiling by $1.8 trillion to cover increased federal borrowing.

If the White House doesn’t begin taking big steps, congressional Democrats “will get killed in the next election,” said Alice Rivlin, the founding director of the Congressional Budget Office who headed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the Clinton administration. Developing a credible debt-stabilization package with Congress would be “a preventive antidote to a landslide” by Republicans in the 2010 election, said Ms. Rivlin, a member of the group that issued the report.

A Senate Democrat on Monday called on Mr. Obama to veto the $1.1 trillion catchall spending bill Congress sent the White House this weekend, saying the president must “take the credit card away from the politicians who just want to spend, spend, spend.”

Sen. Evan Bayh of Indiana said that Mr. Obama didn’t create the spending crisis, but he challenged the president to clean it up.

“I would hope the president would veto this bill,” he said. “Its bad for our country’s finances. It’s bad for our children because we are going deeper into debt to China. It sets a terrible example by showing that politicians are totally out of touch with the sacrifices middle-class Americans are making.”

The Peterson-Pew report warned that “a loss of confidence by international creditors could precipitate a financial crisis.” It also declared that “the growing debt will jeopardize the American living standard and U.S. economic leadership.”

The public debt peaked at 109 percent of GDP at the end of World War II. As recently as 1981, it had declined to 26 percent of GDP.

The annual budget deficit, which hit a postwar peak of 9.9 percent of GDP in fiscal 2009, will fall below 6 percent over the next five years but then rise above 16 percent in 2038, according to the commission’s fiscal base line.

The combination of an aging population and growing health care costs will cause an “unprecedented expansion” of Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, which together will rise from less than 8.5 percent of GDP today to 17 percent in 2038, according to the commission’s base line. By 2018, interest costs will reach 4 percent of GDP, compared with just above 1 percent today.

The Peterson-Pew commission recommends that Congress and Mr. Obama develop a specific and credible debt-stabilization package in 2010 to limit the debt to 60 percent of GDP by 2018. The package, which almost certainly would have to include a combination of tax increases and cuts in proposed spending, would begin to be phased in during 2012. If an annual debt target was missed, “debt triggers,” including automatic spending cuts and tax increases, would take effect, according to the commission’s plan.

Unless corrective action is taken quickly, the crisis “will likely come from international sources,” said commission member James Jones, a former Democratic chairman of the House Budget Committee who later served as ambassador to Mexico during the 1995 peso crisis. “Mexico still hasn’t recovered from the 1995 peso devaluation caused by a lack of confidence in its government,” said Mr. Jones, who also is a member of the group that issued Monday’s report.

In 1970, foreign investors held only 5 percent of the $283 billion in U.S. public debt. Today, they own nearly half of the nation’s $7.7 trillion public debt. The federal government’s gross debt, widely referred to as “the national debt,” totals $12.1 trillion and includes $4.4 trillion that the government has borrowed from itself, mostly from the Social Security trust fund.

“We should be united around the fear of China as our banker,” said Douglas J. Holtz-Eakin, a former CBO director who later advised the 2008 presidential campaign of Sen. John McCain, Arizona Republican. China’s holdings of U.S. Treasury securities have soared from less than $80 billion in 2002 to nearly $800 billion in September 2009. China is now the largest foreign creditor for the U.S.

“This is about our freedom,” said Jim Nussle, who was chairman of the House Budget Committee and OMB director during the George W. Bush administration. “You will be less free if we don’t deal with this problem and deal with it as soon as possible,” Mr. Nussle said at a roundtable discussion at the National Press Club on Monday.

“What used to be a three-decade problem has now become a one-decade problem,” Mr. Holtz-Eakin said.

Mr. Nussle and Mr. Holtz-Eakin helped produce the Peterson-Pew report.

Asked what makes this fiscal crisis different from previous fiscal problems, Ms. Rivlin said, “It is the urgency of the problem and the shift in focus from the [budget] deficit to the public debt,” which essentially represents the accumulation of all previous budget deficits and surpluses.

“The debt-to-GDP ratio has been moderate until recently” but is now poised to explode, said Ms. Rivlin, a Brookings Institution scholar who noted that “the long-run deficits are not being driven by military spending.”

The Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform began in January as a partnership of the Pew Charitable Trusts and deficit watchdogs the Peter G. Peterson Foundation and the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. The group was formed to make recommendations for how best to improve the nation’s fiscal future and how best to strengthen the federal budget process.

By David M. Dickson

Source: Washington Times.

Serbia submits EU membership application

December 23, 2009

Serbia has formally submitted its application to join the 27-nation EU, in a move to end years of isolation.


Serbia’s President Tadic (left) handed over the application on Tuesday

President Boris Tadic handed over the application in Stockholm to Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt of Sweden, current holder of the EU presidency.

The EU is granting 50m euros (£45m; $71m) to Serbia in budget support.

But Serbia still has to cross a major hurdle – the capture of two remaining war fugitives, before membership negotiations will begin in earnest.

Visa-free travel

Serbia feels it has built up a certain momentum on its path to the EU in the past few weeks, the BBC’s Belgrade correspondent Mark Lowen says.

An important trade pact with the bloc has now come into force and since 19 December Serbs have enjoyed visa-free travel to most EU countries.

The EU says that in 2010 Serbia will receive a second instalment of 50m euros in budget support, as well as a loan of 200m euros.

But Serbia’s attempts to gain membership have been hampered by concerns, particularly in the Netherlands, over its failure to capture the two remaining war fugitives indicted by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), based in The Hague.

Chief among them is the former Bosnian Serb military commander, Ratko Mladic.

Earlier this month the UN’s chief war crimes prosecutor said Serbia’s co-operation with ICTY was “progressing”. Belgrade has handed over all the necessary documents.

However, in his report to the UN, Serge Brammertz said Serbia must continue searching for both Gen Mladic and Goran Hadzic, who is wanted for war crimes in Croatia.

Long road ahead

Belgrade is now pinning its hopes on the next report by the chief prosecutor, expected in June.

Our correspondent says a long road lies ahead: it is likely to take at least four years before the hand of EU membership extends to Serbia.

Slovenia is the only former Yugoslav republic to have joined the EU so far. That took place in 2004, and its neighbour Croatia is on track to be the next to join, in 2011 or 2012.

It was Serbia that decided this was the right time to apply, but some countries – notably the Netherlands and the UK – think it is premature, our correspondent reports. They believe Serbia should have waited for its Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA) with the EU to be ratified.

The authorities in Belgrade feel strongly that the momentum of the last few weeks needs to be kept up, Mark Lowen says.

Opinion polls suggest overwhelming Serb support for joining the EU, at 60-70%. But a majority also opposes the hunt for Gen Mladic, seeing him as a national hero.

The granting of visa-free travel to Serbs does not apply to those living in Kosovo.

The territory’s independence declaration is not recognised by Serbia, but neither do five EU member states recognise it, so that is not officially an obstacle to Serbia joining the EU, our correspondent says.

Serbia has signed a security co-operation agreement with Eulex, the EU police and justice mission in Kosovo. But Belgrade is treading carefully, conscious that Serb nationalists feel their country’s interests were betrayed in Kosovo.

By forming closer links with Serbia and encouraging reforms there the EU is showing it is serious about Serbia’s membership bid, our correspondent adds.

It is also a way of keeping together a region that is still quite fragile after the wars of the 1990s, he says.

Source: BBC.

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